Trail American Legion baseball suffered a blow to its program as the Trail AAA Jays will not field a team this season.
After a team practice in early April, American Legion organizers decided there wasn’t enough commitment from local players to fill the Jays’ roster.
“We had the tryout (Apr. 6) in order to suss out a number of players, and we discovered there that about eight kids that could be returning to the Jays, they had told us that they weren’t going to play this year, so we decided to just go with the single-A (Phillies) and the double-A (Diamondbacks),” said AL organizer Ed Ferraro.
Many of the younger players will now play for the U17 Diamondbacks, but it leaves a handful of 18- and 19-year-old players, not to mention coaches Nick and Chris Combo, without a team. Still, Ferraro hopes to regroup in due course.
“The Jays program is just going to be put on hold, everything will still be in place, we’ll just cease operations this year, maybe two years, and come back when this (the younger) group gets older.”
The hiatus is not without a silver lining as coaches and organizers will now concentrate on developing young ballplayers.
“In that practice we determined we have a huge group of 13-14 year olds in the system now, so we’re really excited about getting them in the fold; so we’re looking at maybe a two-year hiatus, (for the Jays) and then coming back.”
With a good number of Little League grads, organizers created three junior teams with Dave Colquhoun, Steve Atkinson, Darren Miracle, and John Lucchini coaching the Reds, Rick Johnson and Shane Gorman the Mariners, and Gary Kanda and John Pasqualato heading up the A’s.
“There’s a good group that came out of the Trail Little League program and that’s where we’re going to put our focus on, get those guys excited about playing baseball and hopefully go right through every level from A to double-A, and ultimately to triple-A,” added Ferraro. “Then after that, if they want to still play then play for the Orioles.”
The American Legion program has undergone various phases, yet the Trail Jays have been a steady presence in the program since 2004-05.
The point is now moot, but Jays’ executive announced earlier this month that the team was set to jump from the North Idaho American Legion to the Spokane American Legion League.
“The Spokane American Legion League (SALL) was super understanding, helped us out on the change in midstream here. They accommodated us and were really good about it.”
The hope is that the SALL will be as accommodating when the Jays are ready to return.
Tryouts for the A Phillies and AA Diamondbacks go from 6 to 8 p.m. Apr. 26 and 10 a.m. to noon Apr. 27 at Butler Park.